Friday, November 30, 2007

Thursday, November 29, 2007

Yo-Yo Ma - Bach recital in NJ -

Hurry tickets are going fast!

Yo-Yo Ma, cello
Monday, March 10, 2008

Yo-Yo Ma returns to Prudential Hall, this time with a rare solo recital devoted to Bach's unaccompanied suites for cello – meditative music sure to take flight in the hands of one of classical music’s undisputed royalty. One of the most forceful musical communicators of our time, Ma “brings humility, warmth, intelligence and gentle humor to virtually everything he plays,” says The New York Times.

Wednesday, November 28, 2007

David Popper's "Dance of the Elves"

Daniel Gaisford 1989 recital in Salt Lake City, Utah

Saturday, November 24, 2007

Friday, November 23, 2007

Cantique de Jean Racine - Fauré

This arrangement by Mooney was performed by Just the BASSics Cello Ensemble under the direction of Kari Moen.

Monday, November 19, 2007

*World Premiere* Richard Ratner Duo for Two Cellos

Cello: Erik Anderson
Cello: Monty Moncrief
November 18, 2007

Opening: Intro by Dr. Erik Anderson

I. Allegro moderato

II. Grave

III. q = 80

IV. Largo (Tempo rubato) & V. e = 100

Janos Starker - Dvořák: Concerto - 1st mvt.

Friday, November 16, 2007

The missing link in the reel - By Norman Lebrecht

The saddest letter I have ever set eyes on fell out of a dusty book I was buying in a basement shop off Charing Cross Road. Dated ‘Hollywood, 5 March 1957’ it was written by the wife of a dying composer to a conductor, Mark Lubbock, who had arranged to give a short talk on the BBC on the composer’s 60th birthday.

In a tone that veered from ingratiating to embarrassingly obsequious, Luzi Korngold applauded Lubbock’s advocacy of her husband’s work and showered him with a pile of recordings. ‘My husband is still not well enough to write himself,’ she wrote in laborious English, ‘(but) I thank you in his name, already in advance, for the pleasure we will have in listening to you.’

Her husband, Erich Wolfgang Korngold, had once been the most successful composer in movieland and, before that, at the Vienna Opera. But musical fashions flicker faster than old films and Korngold’s time had passed; he had six months to live, just long enough to see his reputation vanish.

A commemoration in the coming weeks at London’s South Bank offers some reparation with a long-belated British premiere of Korngold’s 1927 opera Das Wunder der Heliane, a post-romantic work that lifts opera out of the Richard Strauss dinner-jacket into a realm both mystic and modern.

Conducted by the London Philharmonic’s new chief Vladimir Jurowski, the mini-series may provoke a Korngold reappraisal, at least I hope it will. What it cannot do is heal the schism that Korngold left behind – a seismic faultline in the musical process that has prevented the best classical composers from engaging seriously with the cinema, the most popular art form of our time.

No such constraints existed in the world that Korngold was born into in 1897, a world where Johannes Brahms and Johann Strauss played cards together twice a week, celebrating their parallel dominance of cerebral and popular art. Korngold’s father, Julius, was music critic of Vienna’s influential Neue Freie Presse. He took the wunderkind, aged ten, to see Gustav Mahler and came away with a commission to write a ballet. Musicians acclaimed the kid as the best since Mozart, though this may have been in deference to his father’s career-breaking power.

By 18 Erich had two operas on stage. At 23, he addressed the post-War malaise with Die Tote Stadt (Dead City), co-written with his father, a necrophiliac opera about a man who drives himself crazy that his dead wife is having an affair in another town. It won soprano Maria Jeritza world fame and transferred within a year to New York. Over the next 15 years it had more performances in Vienna than any contemporary work.

Eclectic and inquisitive – keen on movies and keen, too, to escape his overweening Papa – Korngold sailed in 1934 to join director Max Reinhardt on the Warner Brothers lot for A Midsummer Night’s Dream (with Micky Rooney and Olivia de Havilland). There, he so impressed the moguls that they let him write his own contract, allowing him, uniquely among Hollywood slaves, the right to own his music and recycle it in any form he chose.

Over the next decade, while Nazism ravaged Europe, Korngold single-handedly defined the parameters of movie music as we know it today – a patchwork of Mahler, Wagner, Berlioz and Johann Strauss, with occasional chromatic moments of original melody for love and tragedy. He specialised in rowdy scores for Errol Flynn swashbucklers but he could turn to baroque pastiche for The Sea Hawk and The Private Lives of Elizabeth and Essex and to contemplative, disturbing quietude for the psychological studies of Kings Row (1942, with Ronald Reagan), Of Human Bondage and Deception (both 1946).

By now, the war over and downcast by his aged father’s death, Korngold realised how far he had drifted off course. ‘I will be 50 in May (1947),’ he told Warner Brothers. ‘Fifty is very old for a child prodigy. I feel I have to make a decision now if I don’t want to be a Hollywood composer for the rest of my life.’

He resumed composing concert works, only to face rejection. Hollywood success had blighted his highbrow reputation. He wrote a gorgeous violin concerto for Jascha Heifetz, scorned by the New York Times as ‘a Hollywood concerto … ordinary and sentimental in character … matched by the mediocrity of the ideas.’

A cello concerto, drawn from the Deception score and intentionally discordant, was similarly derided. The more Korngold composed, the less he got played. Conductors like Wilhelm Furtwaengler, who once accepted his pieces sight unseen, no longer replied to his letters. Broadcasters dropped him from their playlists. The desperation in Luzi’s appeal to the BBC must have echoed Korngold’s deathbed despair.

Through no fault of his own, he had come to symbolise the success of popular movies against the stagnancy of musical tradition. His ostracism was intended as a warning to future composers never to defect to mass temptations.

The line he crossed remained inviolate until the past decade when, facing audience crisis, orchestras took up the Steven Spielberg scores of John Williams and the Lord of the Rings suite by Howard Shore - along with occasional airings of the Korngold violin concerto (a recent Vancouver recording by the young Canadian James Ehnes is outstanding). The excommunication had been lifted.

Yet listening to current movie scores – Patrick Doyle’s fine work, for instance, for the forthcoming Sleuth – you realise how little the art of movie composing has advanced since Korngold gave up in 1946, how stuck directors have become in the expectations of action and emotion that he cultivated, major themes for love, minor for loss.

Korngold, 110 next month and 50 years dead, richly deserves to be welcomed back to the concert hall. But he deserves even more to be recognised as a pioneer of an allied art, an art that now cries out for a new Korngold to rejuvenate its methodology. The time has come to erase the line between movie and concert music, to encourage the likes of John Adams, Thomas Ades and Mark Anton Turnage to try their hand at lifting film tracks out of the Korngold groove and into 21st century modalities.

The LPO play Korngold’s film music on 2 November, the violin concerto on 14 November and Heliane on 21 November. Audio samples can be heard on

Monday, November 12, 2007

The Andersons and Piazzolla - Le Grand Tango

Piano – Dr. Dianna Anderson

Cello – Dr. Erik Anderson

November 5th 2007 - Ann Nicole Nelson Auditorium.

Amazingly neither had ever performed the piece and had only four practice sessions prior to performance.

Both Erik and Dianna are members of the Luminus Trio and faculty at Minot State University.

Friday, November 9, 2007

Kirshbaum coming to USC

Photo/J. Henry Fair

London-based cellist Ralph Kirshbaum is named holder of the Gregor Piatigorsky Endowed Chair in Violoncello at USC Thornton. He will teach in the school’s strings department next fall.
By Ljiljana Grubisic

Cellist Ralph Kirshbaum, who holds a distinguished position among the world’s foremost musicians, has been appointed the fifth holder of the Gregor Piatigorsky Endowed Chair in Violoncello in the strings program of the USC Thornton School of Music.

As “one of the outstanding cellists of his generation,” according to The New York Times, Texas-born Kirshbaum has excelled in a career which encompasses performances with the world’s leading symphony orchestras, solo recital appearances, chamber music collaborations, teaching and numerous recordings.

“Ralph Kirshbaum’s artistry is unsurpassed and his teaching is phenomenal,” said Midori Goto, holder of the Jascha Heifetz Endowed Chair in Violin and the artistic and academic chair of the strings department at USC Thornton. “Kirshbaum’s commitment to mentoring younger musicians is well-known, and he will bring to our strings program a force that cannot be matched anywhere else with his artistry, expertise and dedication.”

Bernard Greenhouse, a founding and longtime member of the Beaux Arts Trio and one of the elder statesmen of the American cello community, called Kirshbaum “undoubtedly one of the most respected teachers and artists in the world. And the fact that he has agreed to take this post at USC will certainly bring the best and the most talented young minds to the university.”

The USC Thornton strings program is considered among the nation’s finest. Its eminent artist/teachers are noted for both individual instruction and coaching in chamber music. High standards of professionalism in performance and teaching have been upheld for more than a century by a faculty that has included Piatigorsky, Heifetz, William Primrose, Eudice Shapiro, Eleonore Schoenfeld, who passed away this year, and her sister Alice Schoenfeld, who is still teaching.

Building on that illustrious legacy, USC Thornton Dean Robert Cutietta recently welcomed internationally recognized Israeli violinist Hagai Shaham to its strings faculty. Midori joined the program four years ago.

“Mr. Kirshbaum is a perfect addition to the already stellar faculty in instrumental music. His impeccable reputation as both an artist and a teacher exemplifies the spirit of the Thornton School,” Cutietta said.

The Piatigorsky Chair of Violoncello was established in 1974 to recognize the achievements of Gregor Piatigorsky, one of the greatest cellists of the last century who taught at USC from 1962 until his death in 1976. Previous holders of this position were Piatigorsky himself (1974-76), Lynn Harrell (1986-1993), Ronald Leonard (1993-2003) and Eleonore Schoenfeld (2004-07).

In a statement from London, Kirshbaum said, “What an honor it is to assume the chair which bears the name of one of the greatest cellists of the 20th century. He served as my boyhood idol. I played to him in a master class as a teenager, and I treasure the memory of a personal visit some years later at his home in Los Angeles. I recognize this appointment as an opportunity and a responsibility; I embrace both wholeheartedly.”

Kirshbaum has appeared with most of the world’s great orchestras and conductors, including Sir Colin Davis, James Levine, Andre Previn, Zubin Mehta and Sir Simon Rattle.

Aside from his busy concerto schedule, his recital programs are much in demand and each year he appears at several of the great international festivals such as Edinburgh, Bath, Verbier, Lucerne, Aspen, La Jolla, Santa Fe, Ravinia and New York’s “Mostly Mozart.” He continues to delight in the pleasures of chamber music and ensures space in a busy solo schedule to continue his associations with many leading chamber musicians, including Pinchas Zukerman, Vadim Repin, Jimmy Lin, Miriam Fried, Yefim Bronfman, Peter Frankl and Nobuko Imai.

Kirshbaum currently teaches at the Royal Northern College of Music, Manchester, where he holds the International Chair in Cello. He was founder and for 20 years the artistic director of the RNCM Manchester International Cello Festival. He gives annual master classes at the International Musician’s Seminar in Prussia Cove, the London Master Classes and throughout the world. He has served on the U.S. President’s Committee on the Arts and Humanities for the past four years.

Kirshbaum’s many recordings have included the world premiere recording of Tippett's Triple Concerto, the Elgar and Walton Concertos, the complete Bach Suites and the Barber Concerto and Sonata, and the Brahms Double and Beethoven Triple Concertos. His most recent release in November 2006 is his recording of the Shostakovich and Prokofiev Sonatas with the pianist Peter Jablonski.

The rare Montagnana Cello that Kirshbaum plays once belonged to the 19th-century virtuoso Piatti.

Currently living in London, Kirshbaum will assume his teaching duties at USC next fall.

In accepting the post at USC, Kirshbaum said, “Having been based for the past 38 years in Europe, I find something particularly apt about my returning to an American base in Southern California, where my father was born and where I spent many happy summer holidays as a child. More significantly, I am very impressed by the palpable sense of excitement and purpose that is evident in the Thornton School and that exists in equal measure in the burgeoning and dynamic arts community of greater Los Angeles.”

Thursday, November 8, 2007

Sophie Feuermann dead at 99 - Robert Battey

Sophie Feuermann, younger sister of the famed cellist, passed away on 11/6 at 99. She was Feuermann's accompanist in the early years of his career.

She was a true survivor. The youngest of 5 children, she was the only one to make it to middle age, and was victimized in the Holocaust as well.

I met her once, she was sharp and lively well into her 90's, and generously offered tips and recollections about her brother and his playing.


Robert Battey

Sunday, November 4, 2007

Schnittke, Sonata for Cello and Piano (Part 1 of 3)

Heinrich Schiff - Violoncello
Paul Gulda - Piano

Schnittke, Cello Sonata (Part 2 of 3)

Schnittke, Cello Sonata (Part 3of 3)

Franz Schubert ''The Trout' Quintet (documentary) 1

Franz Schubert ''The Trout' Quintet - 2

Franz Schubert ''The Trout' Quintet - 3

Franz Schubert ''The Trout' Quintet - 4

Franz Schubert ''The Trout' Quintet - 5

Franz Schubert ''The Trout' Quintet - 6

Rianne reports from the Kronberg cello festival

My first cello festival! A month ago, I spent a wonderful weekend in the small medieval town of Kronberg, Germany. Just got the photos back (I'm one of those stone age people that uses light-sensitive chemicals on a strip of plastic), so I thought I'd share some impressions with you.

I arrived late at night on thursday and left early on sunday morning, but those 2 days were absolutely crammed with exciting events. Concert highlights included Lynn Harrell & Pavel Gililov in the Debussy sonata, Gabriel Schwabe & Gililov in the Rostropovich humoresque, David Geringas in Vasks' Gramata Cellam, Gary-Hoffman & David Selig in the Magnard sonata, and Natalya Gutman's Schnittke (the end of which was unfortunately marred by the gigantic sneeze of an idiot at the back of the church). There were lots of encores too, including a melancholy transcription of Sibelius' valse triste by Geringas and a reprise of the volcanic humoresque by Schwabe.

I managed to get audience tickets for 3 masterclasses. Unfortunately, Gutman's class was oversubscribed, and I had difficulty hearing anything she said from my place in the windowsill behind the curtain. I had a better seat in the Hoffman & Harrell classes, and fortunately they were loud and clear. Interpretation issues aside (works featured were the Dvorak concerto and sonatas by Brahms, Prokofiev and Miaskovsky), I was amazed by how much both of them went back to basics. There were lots of remarks on posture, arm position, tone production, mental preparation, listening carefully etc. Lots of stuff that's directly relevant for me as a beginning player.

The theme of this year's festival was 'Remembering Slava'. There were book presentations by Harald Eggebrecht ('Great cellists') and Elisabeth Wilson ('Mstislav Rostropovich: Cellist, teacher, legend'). Unfortunately the latter's readings were crammed in the small interval between Eggelbrecht and the Gutman masterclass, and she was cut short in middle of some wonderful anecdotes. She very kindly signed my copy as she went out. Lots of wonderful Slava anecdotes were also recollected during a panel discussion in the city hall with David Geringas, Natalya Gutman, Mischa Maisky and composers Giya Kancheli and Rodion Shchedrin. Moods varied wildly, from Maisky's moving recollection of Slava's care for him when his father died ('I feel I lost a second father now'), to a funny anecdote by Shchedrin about the premiere of one of his works in Kronberg (apparently Slava sent a student to collect S. from a restaurant who told him he was urgently needed in the artist's room of the city hall. When the composer arrived only minutes after interrupting his meal, Slava just asked him: "Please, this bar - up or down bow?". "Down." "Thank you, now go!". For Slava, the composer's will was law.

What I loved most of all was the informal atmosphere of the place. Lively discussions with the performers after the concerts, chatting cellists young and old in the cobbled streets and the hotel breakfast room, and a buzzing market with students trying out instruments and music lovers browsing through sheet music and cds. Gary Hoffman played a wonderful slow movement as an encore after his late night concert, but I didn't hear who the composer was. I initially thought "I'll just do a Google after I get home", but then I decided "why not ask the man himself after his masterclass?". I did, and he kindly wrote it down for me (turned out to be from the cello sonata by an Alsace composer called Leon Boellmann).

I guess I know now where I'll be in two years time...

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Saturday, November 3, 2007